O’Loughlin urges the Department of Health to intervene to address the unsustainable staffing situation in the pharmacy sector
25 March 2022
Fianna Fail Senator Fiona O’Loughlin has raised the unsustainable bidding war that is taking place in the pharmacy sector to secure locum cover in the Seanad this morning.
Senator O'Loughlin said, “The average cost of locum cover for retail pharmacists has trebled over the last 12 months. Many pharmacy owners are forced to use a website called clarity. Clarity is used by pharmacists and pharmacy owners to book a locum pharmacist. Last minute bookings through this site can see hourly rates rise to between €130 and €150 per hour- a high price, and one that many pharmacy owners are simply forced to pay.
“It is possible to declare Retail Pharmacy as critical skill shortage, as was done by the UK Government in March 2021 and speed up the process in registering EU and non-EU pharmacists, including those fleeing from Ukraine. We also need to see the Department of Higher Education supporting the sector by increasing the number of Irish university places for pharmacy as well as providing an easier pathway for pharmacy technicians to advance their careers and become pharmacists. The regulator must step in here, otherwise we will see Pharmacies forced, especially those in rural areas, to cut operating hours and services to our local communities- we cannot allow that to happen.”
Senator O'Loughlin concluded by saying “We need to see action by the Department to aid recruitment into the sector. Pharmacies are an essential public service, a service that so many people in all of our local communities rely on, we must support them."